POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

The Buzz on Barna...

For years George Barna has been the apostle of "marketing church" to the masses that he understands through polling and market research data. It seems now that after years of frustration in trying to "fix the church" he is reorganizing his organization to create new structures that will bring about the revolution he seeks. A few years back it seems this was brewing as he was pretty down on church leadership. This is from Christianity Today in 2002:
"The strategy was flawed because it had an assumption. The assumption was that the people in leadership are actually leaders. [I thought] all I need to do is give them the right information and they can draw the right conclusions . …Most people who are in positions of leadership in local churches aren't leaders. They're great people, but they're not really leaders."
The Barna Group will now create the leaders (starting with 8-12 year old kids) - this is from their web site:
As involved and enthusiastic as I am about these first three divisions, the one that really gets my juices flowing is the Josiah Corps. The paucity of godly leadership in the local church today is not because God failed to provide the leaders required. The obstacle has been how we define, identify, train, resource and support godly, called, gifted, visionary leaders. Unlike the popular teaching in many churches today, you do not decide to be a leader; you are a leader only if God calls you to that ministry. To address the church’s leadership paralysis, the vision for the Josiah Corps is to annually identify a nationwide collection of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 who have the calling and gifting to be godly leaders, and to pour 10-15 years of resources into their lives so that they are ready to lead us in fighting the good fight by the time they reach their early twenties. Through a combination of evaluation tools, mentoring/coaching, character formation, skill development, leadership teaching, hands-on experiences, team building, networking, apprenticeships, peer clusters, prayer, and feedback and assessment, we pray that the Lord will allow us to help raise up a mighty army of strong and courageous young leaders who will help our nation to honor God more completely.
Maybe it is just me, but does this seem weird? Should not family and local church form the next generation of children? The Barna Group? I have been puzzled by his methodology "analyze research data" - then predict and plot trends of what is going to happen, report to "church leaders", say to them "you need to change" (sometimes "change or die"). It is amazing to say that we might predict the work of the Spirit of God by data, market trends, etc. Seems almost silly at times...Is it not true that God in his good pleasure, and eternal plans, loves his church and his purposes for his bride shall prevail. It makes me appreciate all the more, those who take their direction from the Word of God rather than the changing winds of the opinions of men. Now, I am all for engaging culture, using modern technonlogy, speaking the lingua franca of our day. Putting eternal truth in new clothes for a new generation...etc. But Barna seems to act like "he knows what everyone should be doing" because of his "data" and sends scurrying church mice running to and fro trying to avoid irrelevance. We can do better. Here is Barna's new plan as laid out on his web site - Reinvention of the Barna Group